Among the players who Pickerington Central football coach Jay Sharrett was intent on praising following his team's 21-14 victory over Cincinnati Elder in the Division I state championship game Dec. 6 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton was someone who didn't show up in the boxscore.

Senior center Anthony Lampron Jr., quiet for most of the postgame press conference as many of the questions were directed toward senior quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw and junior wide receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr., gave a detailed answer regarding what it was like to deal with the movement of the Panthers' defensive line and blitz packages.

While players like Crenshaw, Styles Jr. and junior running back Nick Mosley completed many of the team's most memorable offensive moments during a season in which the Tigers finished 14-1 overall and won their second state title in three seasons, steadying hands like those of Lampron Jr. got those plays started.

In addition to producing more than 5,300 yards of offense this season, Central lost just four fumbles and Crenshaw threw only four interceptions.

On the flip side, the Tigers' defense created 20 turnovers.

"We had no center-quarterback exchange problems," Sharrett said. "We set a school record by having eight turnovers in 15 weeks of football. We play stout defense and we fight before we'll concede a touchdown."

Since Pickerington North began play in 2003, Central has made the playoffs in all but one season and Sharrett has guided the Tigers to a 179-35 record, including a 51-7 mark over the last four seasons.

Central, which beat Mentor 56-28 in the 2017 state final, lost to Cincinnati Colerain 28-14 in a state semifinal last season, but beat Mentor 28-21 in a state semifinal Nov. 29 to reach its fourth title game.

Central opened the season with three wins over out-of-state opponents, including a 34-21 victory over Winter Park (Florida) at the Freedom Bowl on Aug. 30 in Milton, Georgia, before losing to Groveport 19-14 on Sept. 20, snapping its 28-game winning streak against the Cruisers.

The Tigers, however, responded by winning their final six games of the regular season, including going 5-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division to win their 13th league title in 14 seasons.

Central avenged its only loss of the season by defeating Groveport 23-7 in the Region 3 final Nov. 22.

"I've got not no words for it," senior linebacker and running back Dom Marasco said. "Expectations are always high and we had to live up to what people did that came before us. The Georgia trip and everything, that wasn't because of us. That was because of the teams before us.

"We really started to come together after the Groveport (loss). We started having defensive dinners and were all locked in."

Marasco and Ty Hamilton, a linebacker who has committed to Ohio State, were the top seniors on defense.

Both players were named first-team all-league and all-district. Hamilton, who also was first-team all-state, had 120 tackles, 8.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss, while Marasco, who was third-team all-state, had 180 tackles, four sacks, five tackles for loss and three interceptions.

Dawitte Melesse (LB/DL, 59 tackles, 7 tackles for loss) and Arsahn Williams (DB, 52 tackles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions) were the other key seniors on defense.

In addition to Crenshaw and Lampron Jr., the Tigers are losing seniors Jakii Alston (WR, 11 receptions), Justin Canini (WR, 7 receptions), Hamilton (TE) and linemen Collin Brice, Connor Burgess and Alec Hammer on offense as well as Drew Bookman, who served as kicker and punter.

Crenshaw completed 124 of 167 passes for 1,693 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushed 252 times for 1,267 yards and 17 touchdowns and was named Offensive Player of the Year in both the league and district and first-team all-state.

Hammer and Lampron Jr. both were first-team all-league, Burgess made the second team and Alston was honorable mention.

Bookman, who averaged 36.1 yards per punt with 19 punts inside the 20 and made nine of 12 field-goal attempts and 57 of 62 extra-point attempts, was first-team all-league and second-team all-district as a punter.

Mosley, Styles Jr. and most of the players who filled key roles on defense will try to extend the Tigers' string of four consecutive regional championships next season.

Mosley rushed for 1,427 yards and 23 touchdowns on 234 carries and Styles Jr., a Notre Dame commit, ran for 252 yards and one touchdown and had 43 receptions for 585 yards and six scores. Both players made first-team all-district, while Styles Jr. also was first-team all-league and third-team all-state and Mosley also was second-team all-league and special mention all-state.

Junior Sirron Smith rushed for 512 yards and five touchdowns on 72 carries and had five catches for 82 yards, while junior H-back Tyler Turnbull should be another key returnee next season.

Junior Keaton Snyder was special mention all-district and should be the top returnee on an offensive line that also should return juniors Garrett Meek, Cameron Griffith and Donovan Sanchez and sophomore Kyle Imboden.

Junior Garner Wallace was the team's second-leading receiver with 20 catches for 220 yards and has college scholarship offers in both football and basketball after earning second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district honors.

Wallace could be among the candidates to replace Crenshaw at quarterback next year, as he and Alston were the only other players to attempt a pass this season. Sophomore Josh Rawls could be another option.

In addition to Styles Jr. (DB, 36 tackles, 6 pass breakups, 2 interceptions) and Wallace (DB, 59 tackles, 3 interceptions), the top returnees on defense next season should be juniors William Dukes IV (LB, 141 tackles, 5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 1 interception), A.J. Sanders (DB, 53 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups, 1 interception), Smith (DB, 37 tackles), Gavin Edwards (DB, 34 tackles), Donavon McLendon (DL, 25 tackles) and Brandon McDougal (DL, 24 tackles) and sophomores C.J. Doggette (DL, 92 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery), Tyler Gillison (DL, 106 tackles) and Dakari Frazier (LB, 28 tackles).

Doggette was second-team all-league and Gillison was special mention all-league.

Junior Mitchell Vollmer could be the top candidate to replace Bookman at kicker and punter.

"We watch film every morning and were ready for everything," Sanders said. "Every year it's just 25 seniors go out and 25 freshman come in, and the cycle keeps going. It's just a great brotherhood. We just set the bar high and, obviously, the goal is to get back (to the state final) next year."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

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